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UCLA's Datone Jones to have surgery on broken foot

The defensive end suffered the injury during practice on synthetic turf. Coach Rick Neuheisel is optimistic Jones can return this season.

August 12, 2010|By Chris Foster, Los Angeles Times

The injury to defensive end Datone Jones refueled concerns about UCLA's synthetic turf at Spaulding Field.

Jones suffered a broken right foot running on the turf during practice Tuesday and will have surgery Friday to insert a screw to hold together his fifth metatarsal. Coach Rick Neuheisel was optimistic that Jones could play again this season, though "the surgery is a 10- to 12-week deal," Neuheisel said.

The injury occurred when Jones was "running, making a play on quarterback, and stepped in an awkward way and put a little pressure on that bone," Neuheisel said.

It was another in a handful of serious injuries that have occurred in non-contact situations on the synthetic turf the last few seasons.

"I hate that surface," former UCLA linebacker Christian Taylor said. "I don't know if they laid it out wrong or what. It's very slippery. You can't get your feet under you."

Several players, past and present, have complained about the surface, saying it is uneven and cleats often get caught.

Sophomore cornerback Brandon Sermons suffered a fractured left femur during spring practice while participating in a one-on-one passing drill on the turf.

"I just ran up and planted my leg and the bone snapped," Sermons said. "There was no contact." When asked about the field, Sermons said, "There have been a few players hurt in that same spot."

Neuheisel said Sermons got tangled up with the receiver.

UCLA officials were skittish about the subject, with Neuheisel citing concerns that questions about the turf could be used against UCLA in recruiting.

Neuheisel was emphatic that there was not a problem with the synthetic turf, which was installed during the summer of 2006.

"These fields have a life span and we're not even half through the life span," Neuheisel said. "It certainly gets a lot of use. We work out on it all year long. We're talking about replacing it."

But Neuheisel said, "We're well within the life span" of the turf and said there is no "scientific evidence" that shows the Bruins' turf is different from other synthetic fields.

"I do not believe these injuries are because of the turf," Neuheisel said. "I believe that these are fast players who get a little out of control."

Two of those players, though, weren't fast. Former quarterbacks Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan suffered injuries on consecutive plays during spring practice in 2008.

Cowan injured his knee stepping up in the pocket to throw a pass and was lost for the season. Olson broke a bone in his foot on a handoff. Olson reinjured the foot the next summer and missed the season.

"Pat's knee was damaged before it happened," Neuheisel said. "That was the final straw. Ben was a freak deal. Ben was probably wearing the wrong shoe for a guy as big as he is."

In 2007, prior to Neuheisel's arrival, tailback Raymond Carter was jogging through an agility drill when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

"I was trying to cut and my cleat got stuck in the turf," Carter said at the time.

Last August, tackle Micah Kia tore ligaments in his knee and was lost for the season. He said at the time that he was injured when he tried to plant his leg into the turf.

Prince sits; Crissman throws

Quarterback Kevin Prince was held out of practice Wednesday because of a sore back.

"It's not a big deal, to be honest with you," Prince said. "There is no need to aggravate it more."

Nick Crissman made the most of his opportunity with Prince reduced to spectator. Crissman was sharp with his throws while getting the extra reps.

"On Friday, the reps are going to be cut down for a lot of players, so I have to take advantage of these reps," said Crissman, a sophomore who has come back from two shoulder surgeries.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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